At about 11:20 p.m., major media outlets projected that President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden had won re-election with the addition of Ohio in the Democratic column.
An email from the president to supporters shortly before 11:30 p.m. said, "I'm about to go speak to the crowd here in Chicago, but I wanted to thank you first.
"I want you to know that this wasn't fate, and it wasn't an accident. You made this happen.
"You organized yourselves block by block. You took ownership of this campaign five and ten dollars at a time. And when it wasn't easy, you pressed forward.
"I will spend the rest of my presidency honoring your support, and doing what I can to finish what we started.
"But I want you to take real pride, as I do, in how we got the chance in the first place.
"Today is the clearest proof yet that, against the odds, ordinary Americans can overcome powerful interests.
"There's a lot more work to do.
"But for right now: Thank you."
Obama and Biden are celebrating at McCormick Place on Chicago’s South Side. The Romney-Ryan campaign is observing the election returns at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in South Boston.
On Election Day…
• Obama-Biden: 58,855,477 (early results)
• Romney-Ryan: 56,549,432 (early results)
• Obama-Biden: 303 of 270 needed to win (early results)
• Romney-Ryan: 206 of 270 needed to win (early results)
With Obama-Biden projected to return to the White House for four more years, LGBT leaders celebrated.
Chad Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign said, "As millions of Americans celebrate President Obama’s reelection tonight, the LGBT community is particularly elated to send the most pro-equality president ever back to the White House for a second term. There is no doubt that we will continue to see tremendous progress toward full equality like we’ve made during his first four years.
"While some pundits predicted the president’s support for marriage equality would hinder his campaign, we know the opposite is true. President Obama’s historic and heartfelt declaration that all loving and committed couples should be able to marry further rallied millions of voters and sparked conversations that advanced marriage campaigns around the country. His reelection after expressing support for marriage equality is further proof that the momentum is on the side of marriage for all families.
"With our Ally-in-Chief back in the White House, we look forward to working with him on a host of issues including addressing workplace non-discrimination and expanding federal benefits to same-sex couples."
Allyson Robinson of Outserve-SLDN, a nonprofit representing LGBTs in the Armed Forces, reacted to the win: "It's clear from tonight's results that Americans have no desire to turn the clock back on our drive to full equality. The president knows that the repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell' was not the end, but just the beginning. Now is the time to step on the gas to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and ensure that all servicemembers and their families are treated equally by our military. And now is the time to say once and for all that any qualified American who wants to serve our country in uniform should not face discrimination or harassment because of sexual orientation or gender identity."
Said Jennifer Chrisler of the Family Equality Council: "Americans have voted to re-elect a President who fully supports marriage equality and who has worked tirelessly to ensure LGBT parents and their children have a fair shot at the American dream. In casting their ballot for the President they voted in favor of fairness and freedom for all American families."
Voter vows on marriage
• In Maine, Maryland and Washington, voters were deciding whether to legalize gay marriage.
For gay marriage: 53.3 percent with 75.5 percent precincts reporting
Against gay marriage: 46.7 percent with 75.5 percent precincts reporting
With a marriage equality victory projected in Maine, Matt McTighe, manager of Yes on 1:Mainers United for Marriage, said, "Tonight, here in Maine, we proved that voters can change their hearts and minds if we tell our stories and give our fellow citizens a personal connection to the countless families whose lives are impacted by this debate.
"The victory belongs to the thousands of marriage supporters in Maine and across the country who have worked tirelessly for nearly three years to make it possible for all loving, committed couples in Maine to obtain a marriage license."
Griffin, of HRC, said, "This is a landmark election for marriage equality and we will forever look back at this year as a critical turning point in the movement for full citizenship for LGBT people. Voters in Maine came to the common-sense conclusion that all people deserve the ability to make loving, lifelong commitments through marriage."
For gay marriage: 52 percent with 97.5 percent precincts reporting
Against gay marriage: 48 percent with 97.5 percent precincts reporting
For gay marriage: 51.8 percent with 51.3 percent precincts reporting
Against gay marriage: 48.2 percent with 51.3 percent precincts reporting
• In Minnesota, voters were deciding whether to amend the state constitution to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Gay marriage already is banned in the state.
For the anti-gay amendment: 47.6 percent with 98.6 percent precincts reporting
Against the anti-gay amendment: 51.3 percent with 98.6 percent precincts reporting
Out for elected office
This could be a record-setting election for LGBT candidates, with at least 170 out candidates running for office.
• In Wisconsin, out state Rep. Mark Pocan, D, defeated Republican Chad Lee. Out U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D, defeated former Gov. Tommy Thompson for the U.S. Senate.
Mark Pocan: 68 percent with 100 percent precincts reporting
Chad Lee: 32 percent with 100 percent precincts reporting
With Pocan projected the winner, Chuck Wolfe of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund said, "Mark is an outstanding public servant and he will be a fantastic member of Congress. Nobody is better suited to follow in Tammy Baldwin’s footsteps in the House. He’s a fighter, and he’ll be a strong voice for LGBT equality."
Jerame Davis of the National Stonewall Democrats said, "Congratulations to Congressman-Elect Mark Pocan on his election to Congress. Mark reached out to us early and we were very proud to endorse him for his run for the seat being vacated by Tammy Baldwin. Madison voters should be proud of their choice tonight."
Tammy Baldwin: 51.5 percent with 99.5 percent precincts reporting
Tommy Thompson: 45.9 percent with 99.5 percent precincts reporting
With Baldwin declared the winner, Wolfe said, "This is a historic victory not only for the people of Wisconsin, but for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans across the country who have finally gained an authentic and powerful voice in Congress' upper chamber. Tonight Tammy shattered a glass ceiling that has existed for more than two centuries.
"As Tammy said earlier this morning when she stopped to vote in Madison, 'The people who had faith that this was possible made it possible.' Thank you for keeping the faith. Thank you for sticking with us and believing this community can achieve great things. We can, and we did."
Davis said, "Tammy Baldwin has always been an exceptional leader; tonight, she can add another distinction to her long list of accomplishments: first openly gay US Senator. National Stonewall Democrats has been proud to support Tammy Baldwin since her first run for Congress in 1998. The LGBT community can be proud of the progressive record Tammy has created for herself as an advocate for women, working families, LGBT Americans, and other under-represented constituencies.
"I am ecstatic to say the words 'Senator Tammy Baldwin' out loud. This is a big win for LGBT Americans and a solid victory for the citizens of Wisconsin."
Chad Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign cheered: "Tammy Baldwin has always been a trailblazer, but with her victory tonight Senator-elect Baldwin has again earned her spot in the history books. As the first openly gay person elected to the United States Senate, Tammy Baldwin is a role model for LGBT youth and all young women across the country.
"With a relentless focus on the issues that matter most to Wisconsin voters — economic security, access to healthcare, and fairness and inclusion for all. As a result, she’s earned the respect of all her constituents, gay and straight. It was HRC’s privilege to be part of the broad coalition that helped ensure her victory, and we can’t wait to work with her and her team as she takes on this new role."
• In Massachusetts, out Republican Richard Tisei ran against incumbent Democrat John F. Tierney for Congressional District 6.
Richard Tisei: 47.3 percent with 91.4 percent precincts reporting
John Tierney: 48.3 percent with 91.4 percent precincts reporting
• In Arizona’s District 9, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema ran against Republican Vernon Parker and hopes to become the first openly bisexual candidate elected to Congress.
Krysten Sinema: 47.5 percent with 100 percent precincts reporting
Vernon Parker: 46.2 percent with 100 percent precincts reporting
• In California, Democrat Mark Takano is an out candidate who ranagainst Republican John F. Tavaglione for Congressional District 41.
Mark Takano: 56.5 percent with 54.3 percent precincts reporting
John Tavaglione: 43.5 percent with 54.3 percent precincts reporting
• In Colorado, out U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D, ran for re-election in District 2 against Kevin Lundberg.
Jared Polis: 55.6 percent with 90 percent precincts reporting
Lundberg: 39.1 percent with 90 percent precincts reporting
• In Rhode Island, out U.S. Rep. David Cicilline, D, is running for re-election in District 1 against Republican Brendan P. Doherty.
David Cicilline: 53.1 percent with 97 percent precincts reporting
Brendan P. Doherty: 40.7 percent with 97 percent precincts reporting
With Cicilline projected as the winner, NSD' Davis said, "Congratulations to Congressman David Cicilline on his re-election to Congress. In 2010, National Stonewall Democrats supported David's first campaign and sent paid staff to Rhode Island. We're proud to have David return to Washington for another term as the Representative from Rhode Island's first congressional district."
• In New York, out Democrat Sean Patrick Maloney ran for Congressional District 18 against Nan Hayworth.
Sean Patrick Maloney: 51.7 percent with 96.7 percent precincts reporting
Nan Hayworth: 48.3 percent with 98.7 precincts reporting
• In Idaho, out Democrat Nicole Lefavour ran against incumbent Republican Mike Simpson for the Congressional District 2.
Nicole Lefavour: 32.8 percent with 82.7 precincts reporting
Mike Simpson: 67.2 percent with 82.7 precincts reporting
Major battle for majority
There were a couple dozen tossups in the battle for the majority in the U.S. House but Republicans held on to the balance. A race of real interest:
Michele Bachmann’s re-election bid against Jim Graves in Minnesota’s District 6 was tight – her reckless and failed bid for the presidential nomination remained an issue for moderates.
Michele Bachmann: 50.4 percent with 98.2 percent precincts reporting
Jim Graves: 49.2 percent with 98.2 percent precincts reporting
The battle for the U.S. Senate was much closer than the House, but Democrats kept the majority. Some key races:
• Incumbent Republican Scott Brown versus Democrat Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts. Warren was up 4.7 points in the last poll.
Elizabeth Warren: 53.9 percent with 95.2 percent precincts reporting
Scott Brown: 46.1 percent with 95.2 percent precincts reporting
Projecting a Warren victory, HRC's Griffin issued a statement, "Senator-elect Warren’s victory tonight is nothing short of inspiring. As she prepares to fill the seat once held by the late Senator Edward Kennedy, I have no doubt that Senator-elect Warren will be an equally dogged leader for LGBT Americans and our families."
• Incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill versus Republican Todd Akin in Missouri. McCaskill was up 5 points in the last poll.
Claire McCaskill: 54.7 percent with 99.8 percent precincts reporting
Todd Akin: 39.2 percent with 99.8 percent precincts reporting
• Republican Richard Mourdock versus Democrat Joe Donnelly in Indiana.
Richard Mourdock: 44.4 percent with 99.9 percent precincts reporting
Joe Donnelly: 49.9 percent with 99.9 percent precincts reporting
• Republican Linda McMahon versus Democrat Chris Murphy in Connecticut. Murphy was up 3 points in the last poll.
Linda McMahon: 43 percent with 88.4 percent precincts reporting
Chris Murphy: 55.3 percent with 88.4 percent precincts reporting
Griffin commented on Murphy's apparent win: "Over his three terms in the House of Representatives, Chris Murphy made his mark as a committed advocate for fair treatment and equal protection for all. As he prepares to continue this work in the United States Senate, the HRC family offers both our congratulations as well as our optimism for future collaboration."
* Results are unofficial.
* To be updated.